The Metal community has a strong feeling of ‘we’re in this together’, it’s a close-knit scene that supports itself mostly.J. (DINBETHES)
You already are in both SHAGOR (bass) and WEERZIN (drums), why did you decide to start yet another project? To be able to play the guitars too? Do you consider this a solo or studio project where you got help from befriended musicians or do you consider it a band? 2nd Vocalist P is also in SHAGOR & WEERZIN, so the link is obvious. What is your connection with 3rd vocalist K from GHOST OF MIRACH and drum-beast M (PESTILENCE, CARACH ANGREN, ex-GOD DETHRONED) and how did you motivate/convince them to collaborate? Why did you opt for 2 extra vocalists instead of 2 extra guitarists? What does the name DINBETHES stand for?
Thinking back at it I think SHAGOR, OSSAERT and DINBETHES were more or less formed at the same time. WEERZIN came years after that when P. recording some more things during the pandemic and I kind of forced myself on the project as his programmed drums were sh!t as always haha. DINBETHES has been a first opportunity to really figure out writing, recording, mixing and mastering a record from start to finish. It would be fair to say that DINBETHES is a solo project but not a solo effort. I cannot emphasize enough that without P., K. and M.’s contributions this record would not be sounding as good as it does right now. I am but a limited songwriter and instrumentalist. My forte is that I have a creative mind. It’s one of the things I love about the whole process of making records; collaborating with talented and like-minded people, reinforcing each other’s strengths and getting the best end result possible. The connection to P. is indeed quite obvious by now. K. and M. I’ve gotten to know over the years through mutual friends. Seeing and speaking each to each other mostly at other friends’ houses and having shared interests. From that point I started playing with M. here and there, K. helped me out with my clean vocals for a few sessions. Once I asked if they were interested to contribute, neither of them hesitated. I don’t even know if they heard the demos beforehand. They just agreed to help out. That still kind of blows my mind. Regarding the vocalists: I believe P. and K. have very different voices which complement the music in different ways. And as I had all the other bases covered myself, there was no need for different instrumentalists except for drums. Which is of course where M. helped out and elevated my arrangements to a whole new level. There is no meaning behind DINBETHES. The first project in Ableton for DINBETHES I wanted to save as ‘Dingetjes’ (‘Thingies’) as a working title. But then I got ‘typing-typhus’ and it ended up as ‘Dinbethes’. I found that quite funny and decided to keep it.
How proud are you of the debut album ‘Balans‘? How are the reviews so far? Are you happy with how things are going? The music was written back in between December 2019 & August 2020. Are you patient enough to see your music released only 2,5 years after? Meanwhile, you will have further evolved musically, do you feel ‘Balans’ is already somewhat outdated because of that or does it still exactly meet your current vision and how you imagined it to sound when you wrote it 2 years ago? How is the promotion going e.g. PR through DEAD MILL MEDIA, single premiere via ADDERGEBROED etc.? How do you select which tracks to release as a single?
Insanely proud. Good or bad reviews will not change too much about that. When I started playing bass when I was 14 the wildest idea was always being able to play and record everything on my own. I guess now 15 years later we’ve achieved that! Although I must say that I can get frustrated if I read a review peppered with opinion while the reviewer clearly doesn’t get what the created product is about. On the other hand a very positive review also makes me very humbled and happy. I am still human haha. ‘Balans’ is a product that I am wholeheartedly proud of and will always be. Records are a snapshot of the writers’ point of view at that point in time. This final product was the best I could achieve at that moment in time. The moment I finished I needed to draw a line in the sand for myself as well. I remastered the damn thing 3 times over and I was sick of it. Done should be done. What comes after that comes after that; just take the experience to the next project and continue. The main question I asked myself at the end was ‘Will I regret not doing or changing something later on?’ and I can still clearly answer a firm ‘I don’t’ to that question. Choosing singles was relatively easy: ‘Balans’ was too long and I felt ‘Venijn’ and ‘Geboren’ gave the best full picture of what the record is about, both musically and lyrically.
It’s a shame that vinyl production is taking forever these days, otherwise ‘Balans’ would’ve been released way earlier, I think. On the other hand: I’ll gladly show some more patience if that means getting the opportunity to press your own album on vinyl. I can only be grateful for that opportunity BABYLON DOOM CULT has given me, not everyone gets chances like this. Same goes for the PR through DEAD MILL MEDIA; an opportunity provided by BABYLON DOOM CULT and I’m very happy I do not have to do all that sluggish work myself this time as we did with WEERZIN and SHAGOR.
‘Balans’ will be released on vinyl via collaboration with BABYLON DOOM CULT RECORDS and as CD & MC via SWARTE YSSEL. How would you rank these formats from least favorite to favorite? Are you a collector? In times of streaming, is it difficult to sell physical media? Or is a retro-movement in vinyl making up for that? Do you think that it is especially Metalheads who still prefer physical media? Why would that be?
I do not really have a preference. I’m not that much of a collector (I have maybe 100 cd’s and 30 vinyls, few tapes) but friends of me are. The only moments I use vinyls, cd’s or tapes is when I’m having a drink with friends. Instead of going online and streaming anything that pops into your mind, read the room and pick something everyone enjoys. And listen through the whole goddamn record instead of just a single song to then move to something completely different the next song haha. I enjoy going through someone’s records and getting to know someone’s taste that way. It often gives some food for conversation as well. Seeing that also in other styles of music vinyl is booming I reckon it’s not only in the Metal community. It is, as it always was, still the most direct way to support the artists you like, I think. Especially in ‘independent’ or niche communities. I’ve noticed that since we’ve been able to play live with SHAGOR again people are very eager to buy merchandise in any format. Whether it’s OSSAERT, SHAGOR or WEERZIN; people are showing their support by buying anything. Something I do observe the amount of loyalty and willingness to support smaller or independent artist is enormous within the Metal community. The Metal community has a strong feeling of ‘we’re in this together’, it’s a close-knit scene that supports itself mostly.
Can we speak of a Dutch Black Metal scene that has strong ties between all bands/projects? It appears to me that many bands are related. Is this due to some personalities like yourself being active in multiple bands? Is this due to sharing the same stages? Because of the use of the Dutch language? Because of geographical proximity? What is it that makes the Netherlands such a fertile soil for Black Metal?
To be honest: I think there is not one clear answer. On one hand I think the Netherlands has a lot of ‘creative hubs’, cities where a lot of creative minds cross paths and cross pollinate with each other’s ideas and the scene is very strong. On the other hand, I think that there are quite a few ‘einzelgängers’ or small collectives working on their own islands which can hardly be called a scene. The Utrecht scene for example I would point out as a very interconnected scene. LASTER, anything HAERESIS NOVIOMAGI, TERZIJ DE HORDE, WRANG, WESENWILLE, GREY AURA and the list goes on. A long list of names and most of these guys have worked with each other, whether sharing the stages, filling in a show or recording with each other. NUSQUAMA is for example a good example of this interconnectedness, featuring members from LASTER, TURIA and FLUISTERAARS. A lot of these people have also simply carved out their own opportunities, but they’ve been provided the opportunity to develop themselves and showcase their work as well, be it through big festivals like ROADBURN or through small bookers give starting bands an opportunity to play their shows. The city of Utrecht lends itself to it with Universities and Colleges, being very densely populated with creative people. If I look more rural at my own region the Black Metal scene is more isolated. Every city or area has a few guys doing something but to my knowledge nothing very connected or solid. Local culture in these regions lends itself a bit less to these creative outbursts as things tend to be a bit more traditional as opposed to the more urban parts. And whether or not these guys are left-, right-, upwards- or sideways-leaning: my experience has been that this ‘young and new’ Black Metal part of the scene is very open and supportive. Each time I’ve reached out to someone in the scene, whether it was with band stuff or label stuff, generally these people have been very supportive and generous in their time and advice. My experience by the way is that this counts for a major part of the Dutch Metal scene in general. From enthusiastic amateurs to settled professionals. People are passionate about what they do and produce and are willing to share knowledge and skills. When you are putting your hours in and show you’re serious about your work, this scene is very open to get you on your way. I think the collaboration with K. and M. for ‘Balans’, musicians I would’ve never imagined being able to work with a few years ago, exemplifies that.
J, you wrote the lyrics for the album which is baptized ‘Balans’, a relevant title that stirs interest. The press release briefed that ‘Balans’ tells the story of hopes and fears. About control and letting go, about trial and error and the balance between these extremes. Is this about how one can suffer & fail to ever be happy when being a perfectionist or a control freak because of the pressure one imposes on oneself this way? And how letting things go can be liberating? Is this about the modern times where burn-outs are widespread? About how important finding the right balance is? Or what else would you like to get across? Is this autobiographical? Are your lyrics therapeutical writing? How important is it to write in Dutch? If music would not exist to write lyrics to, would you write poetry instead?
It’s fair to say that these lyrics are quite autobiographical, yes. ‘Venijn’ about filling the void with and trying to run away from it all through substance abuse, ‘Storm’ about taking back control of your mental state and stop externalizing feeling, ‘Geboren’ about trauma which you’ll simply have to learn to live and deal with, ‘Balans’ about, you guessed it, finding the mental balance and persistence to keep going. As you guessed quite correctly, there have been quite a lot of perfectionist mind-f*cks over time. Writing music and lyrics help me analyze and unravel my thoughts. Always feeling like anything you do is never good enough. Not for yourself, nor for anyone else. You’re worth nothing and what you do is not even remotely close to mediocre. Be ashamed for even thinking it might be good. The list goes on and on. Which in the end of course is complete bullsh!t, quite comical really if you look at it from a distance; I’m very aware that I’m not completely useless and I am or will be good at whatever I choose to pursue. Yet I’ve stepped into that doom thinking pit one too many times. Writing in that sense has been quite cathartic. Some of the lyrics only made sense after everything was recorded and done. But you know what really helps with this kind of stuff? Reaching out to a professional and sorting that sh!t out. Really: the best choice I’ve ever made over the last 10 years has been reaching for a professional when I needed one. Turns out it keeps you from hanging yourself, who would’ve known? Joking aside though: get help if you need it. It has been one of the main reasons that lets me keep my balance when I’m not able to do it myself. The reason for writing in Dutch is quite simple: I’ve never done any different. I can express myself best in Dutch and am able to convey my message clearest and most creatively that way. Although I’ve been working in an international environment over the last 5 years and speak English more often than Dutch during the week, I remain most comfortable in my native tongue. And poetry isn’t usually my cup of tea, so I think I won’t be going that direction if need be. Theater plays or something like that more likely.
COMPOSITION & INSPIRATION
J., you wrote the music. TURIA, FLUISTERAARS, ISKANDR, TARDIGRADA, GRUZJA, MORVIGOR, OATHBREAKER are listed as sources of inspiration in the press release. Which are the common ingredients of these bands that attract you? Which is the ingredient that distinguishes DINBETHES from those bands?
Hard to pinpoint what the exact common ingredients are shared between them. TURIA and ISKANDR have been an inspiration in regards of writing simple but atmospheric and creative. I think O. is one of the main reasons I started writing myself. Knowing him through shared work besides making music and seeing him work his way towards the musician he is now has been quite inspirational. It gave me the push that said ‘Hey man, if he can do it, you can as well’. MORVIGOR and GRUZJA blew my mind mixing different styles, FLUISTERAARS with their simple yet effective writing, OATHBREAKER opened a whole range of possibilities in dynamics, TARDIGRADA’s vocals in combination with the insane wall of sound. And to honest: there is are a lot more artists that should be on that list. In the end I think what I am always looking is closely described as ‘Schwung’. All of the records and songs tell stories, they keep moving and keep you interested. Even outside of conventional Metal genres I get inspired all around: AMIGO THE DEVIL’s storytelling, LEVEL 42’s thumping bass-lines, RIVERSIDE’s art of keeping 4 chords interesting for minutes on end, RODRIGO Y GABRIELLA’s bringing together of flow and melody, HOPSIN’s flow and rhythm in his lyrical delivery and the list keeps on going: all of these artist know how to keep their listeners attention through their own unique interpretations of their styles and capitalizing on their strengths as creators. I can keep banging on about these amazing artists and acts. I get inspired by that. It makes me wonder; ‘why does it flow so well? What makes it interesting to me as a listener? What pulls me in? And most importantly: why do I keep coming back to revisit?’ Whether that is with dynamics, excellent musicianship or odd curve-balls within the music; they all are more than simply good songs. They are stories. Musically and lyrically. That speak to me, the listener. Often with an amazing groove I have to say, which is key. And which is something I always look for in music. I will always be a bass player at heart haha.
J, you wrote the music, you wrote the lyrics, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered the album. What is the reason for this? Is it because DINBETHES is your brainchild? Is it because you have the experience anyway? Or was it the first time you took care of the production of an album and was it a way to reduce cost? How did you get to learn guitar, bass, drums, and sound engineering? School? Self-taught? Which instrument do you feel most comfortable with? The drums were recorded in ON DUTY STUDIOS, why was that, is that a different ballgame?
It is the first time I’ve written, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered an entire album on my own. It has always been a dream to be able to be able to completely control the creative process from start to finish and right now I’m at the moment in time where this is actually possible time and money wise. In the end it’s nice to not be dependent on a budget for studio costs or any other costs. The main incentive however has always been wanting to be able to do it myself. Sheer interest in how the audio world works and why it works the way it does. Because this way I think I will be able to express myself better in a creative way, knowing all the steps and endless possibilities in the process. P.’s often told me throughout the process ‘Just send it to W. Damiaen and let him do it’. Which in turn often resulted in me being stubborn as a mule and telling him to f*ck off haha. And in the end I’m glad I did looking at the result, ‘Balans’. The same goes for the instruments I play: it’s the inquiry into how to get what I want out of the instrument and being able to use it in the process of creating music. Everything I do up till now has been self-taught and researched with some help and advice from friends here and there. I like to just go for it, see what happens but with a purpose. Most of the songs on ‘Balans’ were formed that way as well; start playing around on the guitar, find something I like and continue writing from there. Where to go from here? What does the song need? A riff I can’t play yet? Practice your @ss off. Make it work through putting effort in. It would be realistic to say that I’ve really started to learn and understand playing the guitar while writing this record. Of course, I’d fiddle around on guitars before that, but I’ve never really had the incentive to learn or master the guitar. During the process of writing, I’ve learned how to use the guitar in a proper manner. It’s the way I learn anything really: I have a need for the thing I want to learn, an incentive or motivation. Otherwise I can’t be bothered. In turn that also results in me only being able to play the parts I need, my fingers will still be tripping over each other when I need to play anything else. Same goes for the drums in WEERZIN. Was I able to play them when I started? Not at all. So I started practicing for 2 weeks. Can I play much more than that? Barely. Jack of all trades, master of none I suppose. I don’t mind. I can express myself the way I want to. In the end the instrument that I think I’m actually any good at and really understand is the bass, the instrument I started out with and am comfortable playing live. The choice for ON DUTY STUDIOS was a simple one: it’s M.’s own studio. Renting out a different studio wouldn’t make sense money wise. At that time I did not have the gear yet to fully mic a drum kit and make it sound good either so that was the best solution. It gave M. the opportunity as well to record everything in his own setting and his own terms, which resulted in amazing drum parts. For the coming SWARTE YSSEL production, SUOL, however I’ve also recorded drums for the first time. That result you will hear somewhere in 2023 probably.
SHAGOR‘s ‘Sotteklugt’ was released through BABYLON DOOM CULT RECORDS. Together with vocalist P (OSSAERT/WEERZIN), you founded the label SWARTE YSSEL. SWARTE YSSEL co-operates with BABYLON DOOM CULT RECORDS for vinyl releases. Rather than competing with each other, there seems to be a click between both labels. How did this collaboration come to being? Since you complete each other not only on the formats (LP vs CD/MC) but also on territory (Belgium vs the Netherlands), how do you value the complementarity between both labels?
Jo from BABYLON DOOM CULT RECORDS is awesome. He provided SHAGOR the opportunity to be launched into Black Metal land through offering us a vinyl deal back in 2020. The collaboration since then has always been pleasant one so why change then? If things work out well, keep it running. Changing for the sake of change wouldn’t make sense and probably be detrimental for both sides. The same goes for the collaboration with P.’s OSSAERT and GG from ARGENTO RECORDS. Passion rules the game with these people. They are as much fan as they are artists or label owners, which is something both P. and I hold in a very high regard. And like with the musical endeavors we have; these collaborations bring out the best in all parties involved.
How did you hook up with ART FROM THE UNDERGROUND? Is the artwork by ART FROM THE UNDERGROUND a litho? How does the artwork relate to the music and the lyrics? What does the image symbolize? Does the logo relate to Yggdrasil? What is the meaning of the logo? Which instructions did you give ART FROM THE UNDERGROUND for both artwork and logo? Where are the photographs by P.’s neighbor taken?
M. from ART FROM THE UNDERGROUND has been playing in bands with P. from way back. Over time I got to know M. better as well. We have a good click and started hanging out whenever life would allow for it. Besides that, he is an amazing graphical designer clearly. Those 2 combined makes for an amazing and very fruitful collaboration. What I find amazing is that he only needs a few pointers and he has always created something that surpasses my imagination. Fully hand drawn and then digitalized. I believe I gave him 5 words, a few sample pictures to indicate the style and the lyric sheets. I like to let other artists do what they’re good at with a limited framework. M. is a master at this. Hence we always gravitate back to him our new SWARTE YSSEL productions. Regarding the logo: for me there is no underlying meaning. A product needs a fitting logo. The logo looks nice and representable to what the music is. The photos were taken on the heathland close to Zwolle after some heavy snowfall. As we decided to take pictures for SUOL, we decided to do DINBETHES at the same time. Effectiveness baby. Not everything has to be complicated haha.
Depending on your answer whether DINBETHES is a solo project, a studio project, or a live band, is DINBETHES ever going to perform live? If so, what would the stage image be like?
DINBETHES has been written as a studio project. I will have to listen to individual recorded stems to figure out some of the partitions in the music were it ever to go live. For the coming years my main focus will be SHAGOR in regards to live shows. If DINBETHES ever goes live I’ll figure that out then and there.
What can we expect from DINBETHES, SHAGOR, WEERZIN & your label SWARTE YSSEL in the future? Dreaming wild, what is the ultimate ambition which you have with this project?
Well, after finishing up the SUOL record I’m planning on writing bass lines and lyrics for SHAGOR’s second album which has been in the works. There are a lot of ideas for DINBETHES’ second record as well. What comes after that comes after that. The creativity well hasn’t run dry yet. For me personally it would be nice to take SHAGOR far abroad and play some awesome shows. Besides that it would be nice to see SWARTE YSSEL grow into something that is self-sustainable financially so that I can work on musical projects worry free. Help out other local starting bands make their first steps for example without having to be worried about any finances. Up till now I’ve taken quite a lot from the community, I hope I’ll be able to give back at a certain point.
Anything else you wanted to answer but that I failed to ask?
Nope. My mind went numb after answering all of the above. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to elaborate on my passion!